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Russia’s space chief says “foreign sabotage” could explain recent failures


A Zenit-2SB rocket, carrying the Phobos-Grunt (Phobos-Soil) spacecraft, stands at a launch pad of Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome early on Nov. 9, 2011, just before blasting off toward Mars.



Russia’s space chief Vladimir Popovkin has raised the possibility that “foreign sabotage” may be responsible for the string of failed missions his agency has experienced in recent months, the Associated Press reported.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

Russia, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of manned space flight in April, has experienced setbacks including the failure in November by the Phobos probe to Mars. In August, it lost its most powerful telecommunications satellite and a cargo- supply ship destined for the International Space Station.

More from GlobalPost: Russian space craft gets lost on way to Mars moon (VIDEO)

"It is unclear why our setbacks often occur when the vessels are traveling through what for Russia is the 'dark' side of the Earth – in areas where we do not see the craft and do not receive its telemetry readings," Popovkin told daily newspaper Izvestia in an interview today, Agence France-Presse reported. "I do not want to blame anyone, but today there are some very powerful countermeasures that can be used against spacecraft whose use we cannot exclude.”

Popovkin didn’t accuse any particular country of foul play, the AP reported.

Popovkin also admitted that the Phobos probe program was underfunded, and said that led to some "risky technological solutions,” the AP reported.